Flash View 4: Accusing Syria


BBC Radio 4’s “Today” (Tuesday, 27th June) carried a statement by a US spokesman claiming the Syrian government was preparing a chemical attack on civilians.

The spokesman went on to make other unsubstantiated accusations including that the Assad government was responsible for creating ISIS.

The US knows about chemical attacks. Four decades after its defeat in Vietnam there are still many suffering the effects of Agent Orange. It also knows that ISIS is descended from their creature, the Mujahidin, and developed through the chaos of US, and British, action in Iraq.

Who would actually benefit from such a chemical outrage?

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Flash View 3: Mind the Generation Gap


It was votes of the young, naively optimistic/self-interested (abolition of tuition fees), or the old, cynical/self-interested baby boomers, who betrayed the nation. Or at least, that seems to be the underlying theme of election commentators.

What is wrong with self-interest? If the working class of any age was more self-interested it wouldn’t continue to put up with the fundamental cause of its problems, capitalism.

The young, the old and all in-between have a common self-interest in creating a society that meets the needs of them all, not just the profit of the very few.


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May Election in June


When the prime minister called this election the prospect of a Labour victory appeared fanciful. There were seemingly foolhardy protestations that the yawning gulf measured by opinion pollsters might be reduced, but surely not significantly so?

Theresa May has shown herself to be incompetent as a politician, choosing to present her cult of a personality that is both insipid and dour. Worse, for her, a reputation for strength and decisiveness has been tarnished by a campaign of indecision and vacillation.

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn has displayed vigour and resolution, promoting, through Labour’s manifesto, an alternative increasing numbers of the electorate find appealing.

The terrorist outrages have starkly demonstrated the baleful consequences of Tory austerity; it leaves people vulnerable. The loss of 20,000 police officers, and a similar number of community support officers, has reflected badly on the former Home Secretary.

If the Tories do lose the election there will be the irony that law and order is an important contributory factor.

But, will the Tories lose?

The majority of voters are workers whose interests should be contrary to the Conservatives’. However, there is a Trojan paralysing working class programmes called Brexit.

Just a year ago a slim majority voted to leave the EU. There was good reason to do so from a working class perspective. The EU is undoubtedly constituting itself as a pan-European super-state to serve the imperialistic aims of its capitalist class.

Voting to leave, though, merely launches the working class into the orbits of other imperialist blocs, most likely a transatlantic one centred on the USA. Whichever way the working class voted in the referendum, capitalism was the victor.

It is the custom to refer to a capitalist class, but this can convey an impression that capitalism is homogeneous. Most definitely this is not the case. It is a barely tempered chaos of competition, and it was competing capitalist elements that used the referendum in pursuit of partisan ends.

The anti-EU faction successfully fascinated enough of the electorate through the illusion of sovereignty. It is illusory because the restrictions and demands of the EU are to be exchanged for restriction and demands of arrangements, deals, with other capitalist blocs.

Since the turn of the twentieth century, and before, capitalism has been a worldwide system in which vestiges of national sovereignty are allowed for as long as they don’t contradict capitalist imperatives.

The Brexit vote serves as an ideological restraint, encouraging nationalist, too often xenophobic, thinking, that continues to serve capitalist purposes as a prophylactic against class consciousness and the internationalism that entails.

Many who might otherwise vote Labour on 8th June might vote for May the Brexiteer, despite her having been a tepid remainer.  She could well harness votes that would usually be denied the Tories because of the vague perception that she’ll negotiate some ill-defined “good deal for Britain”.

In this digital era the purpose of Trojans is to paralyse, even destroy, programmes. Brexit, for or against, might well serve to do precisely that to the Labour programme.

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Manchester Triptych



Floret of flame, echo of the big bang,

Flinging innocent creation apart,

Flaying thin skin from an orderly world,

Punching and pummelling breaking bodies,

Undoing flesh with nuts and bolts and screws,

Undoing families in a moment,

Undoing this cause through its own effect,

Discounting the life which this is the sum,

Discounting lives summarily totalled,

Immaculate lives blown out in a flash.


Who the bomber? One dressed in his best vest,

High on the opiates of his people?

Or higher, two miles high, super sonic

And scratching the sky so close to the void?

Or miles out to sea, maybe, on a cruise?

Or cruising through cyber space and zapping

Pixilated people deaf to the drone?

And who the victims? Outlines coloured in

With bold strokes broad enough to blur edges,

Such simplified figures, which children count?

$ + £…

Words are not cheap, they do cost lives, spoken

With redacted care to prick sentiments

With forked tongues, justifying calls to arms

For the hundred years and more war, all one

Global war over branding, re-branding,

Bottom lines, arrayed on banners, dressed up

In various uniforms, or civvies,

Obscured by common words, such as Great War,

Second World, Cold and Hot, Insurgency.

And then, on the home front, comes a flash point.

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Flash View 2: Assassination by Insinuation


During Radio 4’s Today programme’s (Saturday, 20th May) newspaper review, an item was highlighted that the intelligence services had, at one point, opened a file on Jeremy Corbyn due to suspicions he was supportive of the IRA.

The Labour manifesto was beginning to gain traction, while the Tory’s had met hostility. Better to switch from competing ideas and policies to personalities and character assassination.

A story in a ‘paper has limited impact, but reported by a national broadcaster significantly magnifies its effect.

Corbyn’s subsequent statement condemning all bombing is also now being interpreted, through compliant media, as being pro-IRA.

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Personality Culture


There are two Jeremy Corbyns. There is the strawman version, stuffed by the media and set up for pelting; then there’s the real one. Since being elected to the leadership of the Labour Party the latter has had to endure being eclipsed by the former.

This is no fault of Corbyn himself. His performances at the Dispatch Box and in interviews have been measured and reasonable. However, that image, no matter its veracity, is of no interest to the media.

Assisted in no small measure by self-seeking and disloyal Labour MPs, the media have constantly paraded the strawman in public, inculcating an impression of flaccidity and hollowness. And in a news-glance society it’s that impression that’s been influential.

Come the announcement of the snap general election it is hardly surprising that Labour lags in the polls as no opposition to seven years of coalition and Tory administration should. The failure to garner increased support must surely be the fault of the leader?

Absolutely it is, just not the present one. No matter Tony Blair won a large majority in 1997, it was his enthusiastic pursuit of essentially Thatcherite free market economics and the mendacity around the Iraq war that seriously drained the Labour pool.

Membership fell faster than voting numbers, a trend not altered by Gordon Brown or Ed. Miliband, both leaders who also lost elections. Whatever else, Corbyn has brought huge numbers into the party, especially the young who are all too often alienated by politics.

Seemingly, the media were quick to spot the danger of enthusiasm to politics as usual in which the requirements of finance capital are predominant no matter which party is nominally in power. The irony is, Corbyn is no revolutionary, being a mainstream social democrat.

It is a measure of how deeply reactionary ideology has penetrated society that the moderate reforms proposed by Corbyn can be portrayed, and widely accepted as being “hard left”, a phrase useful to the media due to being meaningless.

Elections, local and national, are essentially passive affairs. Voters are effectively political consumers invited to choose from the shelf of pre-packaged products. They play no part in formulating policy or determining candidates. Just put the cross in the box and then keep quiet.

Hardly surprising that there’s widespread disengagement with politics beyond a cursory consideration of the limited offerings. In a culture in which celebratory figures hugely it is relatively easy for the media to reduce politics to personalities the media is instrumental in creating.

So, the Tory “battle bus” tours the country emblazoned with the prime minister’s name in huge letters along it flanks, with a diminutive “Conservatives” as an after-thought on the door. To his credit, Corbyn has eschewed this in favour of trying to actually argue his case in public.

“And always keep a hold of nurse

For fear of finding something worse.”

This couplet from “Jim, who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion” by Hilaire Belloc sums up the Tory campaign. Nurse May will keep us all safe from that wild, hard left lion lurking at the head of the Labour Party.

But, beware the nasty, down right toxic, medicine she will administer should we actually keep hold of her.

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The local election results appear to suggest the media theme of Labour imploding under Jeremy Corbyn has been confirmed. However, as the old saying goes, appearances are deceptive. Not that the losses by Labour are not significant.

The problem for the Corbyn naysayers is that Labour’s electoral woes pre-date Corbyn’s leadership by a number of years. It was not he who led Labour to defeat in 2010 or 2015, nor was he in charge when UKIP began to make incursions.

Indeed, it is UKIP that is the crucial factor. Intentionally or not, they have served the Tories well in the roll of stalking horse. UKIP insinuated a narrow nationalism into communities that have carried the brunt of austerity.

The campaign for withdrawal from the EU became restricted to a backward looking Britishism, playing on fears exacerbated by the continuing effects of a Labour prime minister, Gordon Brown, effectively nationalising the excessive debts incurred by the speculations of finance capitalism.

The result has been that Labour has become identified as the cause of financial crisis rather than having to cope with it. Subsequently, the Tories profited politically and set about ensuring that “ordinary working people” continued to be financially punished for the crisis created by others.

This led to many on the receiving end, having lost faith in Labour, turning to UKIP who effectively insinuated a Tory ideology. Rather than a sense of class solidarity, many pursued an apparently easier option of rebellion through UKIP.

This has been a reaction to the Tory austerity being applied by Labour controlled councils. Again, it is Labour that has become identified with depredations that really belong at the door of capitalism. But without a common sense of class solidarity it is individual issues that become prominent.

Brexit led to the fall of the previous Tory administration, to be replaced by one that carries the UKIP banner. Prime Minister May was a lukewarm “remainer” at best leading up to the referendum, but is totally committed to pursuing the Tory agenda of serving capital at the expense of the working class.

Having served its purpose, UKIP supplied the wherewithal for the Tories to prosper in the recent local elections. Should this be replicated on 8th June Labour must not turn in on itself. Simply blaming Corbyn would be avoiding the fundamental problem, an ideological insurgency of Tory notions in to the working class.

Brexit is being commandeered by the Tories to serve their narrow political ends. It is incumbent upon Labour MPs to stop pursuing some perceived easy option of moderation, whatever that means.

Labour has built a membership half a million or so strong. That will drift away if “politics as usual”, that is, the politics of change very little and certainly don’t rock the finance capital boat, is asserted. Local elections are poor indicators of political trends as barely a third of the electorate participate.

Fretting over leadership is to succumb to a media that has been openly hostile to Corbyn from the moment he was first elected. After all, the previous leader was branded “Red Ed” by that same media and similarly vilified for being so incompetent he couldn’t eat a bacon sandwich, never mind run a country.

Labour politicians who think ditching Corbyn is the solution are fooling themselves. The media, as enforces of capitalist ideology, will always have their poisoned pens at the ready. Only once a leader has proved to be ineffectual in challenging the status quo will grudging lukewarm praise be offered on leaving office.

If the only way Labour can garner enough support to form a government is by becoming pink Tories, what then is the point? It’s true Labour can change nothing without winning an election, but the purpose for such a victory must surely be making change worthwhile.

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